The real estate industry has a huge effect on the revenue generation of any economy as it is among the largest sectors that provide job opportunities to a variety of professionals. Although assumed to be male-dominated, the industry has attracted more and more women over time, with even more women pursuing higher education in real estate to advance their careers. According to the IWPR report, women represent 57% of real estate professionals in the US. Of concern is the gender pay disparity in real estate which occurs as women are paid less than men despite working in similar circumstances; same employer, same job description and having the same experience. This is evidenced in the IWPR report which indicates that the ratio of female to male earned in real estate is at 69.6% with women and men earning an annual median of $42,987.62 and $61,771.71 respectively. Other forms of discrimination that limit the advancement of women in real estate include; employment discrimination, position and promotion discrimination, discrimination in access to training and professional discrimination.
Why the gender pay gap exists in real estate
According to the 2017 WGEA report, the gender pay gap in real estate has widened by 3.7% from 25.6% in 2013-2014 to 29.3 in 2016-2017. This gap comes as a result of implicit bias from employers and clients, it is not intentional but comes from the employer’s hidden expectations, attitudes, and assumptions. There are currently more women working as real estate agents or brokers compared to men, companies, therefore, tend to overpay male workers to retain them and keep a stable male to female ratio of employees, according to the BLS report. Women are also known or perceived to be reluctant to negotiate their pay, hence end up settling for a lower pay compared to their male counterparts.
The gender wage gap is at its peak during the childbearing years as women are expected to take more time off work compared to men. As a result, women experience challenges navigating the social side of real estate with many deals being done outside business hours on ski weekends, golf tournaments and evening drinks. This is because women have to create a balance between business and family compared to men.
Many women in real estate tend to be trapped in the residential area, not breaking the glass ceiling into the better paying commercial sector, which remains male-dominated. According to the National Association of Realtors, about 62% of realtors in the residential area are women, while the 2013 Commercial Real Estate Diversity Report indicates that women take up only 35% of the commercial real estate. Several other reports indicate that women are generally not risk takers and tend to value compensation less compared to men.
Strategies to close the gender pay gap
The first step for any real estate company is to acknowledge that the gender pay gap exists. It is not always within the company’s control, sometimes the clients are gender biased, preferring female over male clients and some may expect female realtors to settle more readily for lower fees. The greater task to reduce the gender pay gap is left to women in real estate; to negotiate for the best pay possible, express why it is deserved and explain to the employer why and how it a better split will work in the company’s favor.
Employers should implement fair pay for all employees by basing remuneration purely on experience, education and expertise, offer flexible working options and career advancement opportunities to women who are starting a family as this can slow down their career advancement, and have policies that commit to gender equality, taking steps to bridge the gender pay gap in the company.
Advantages of women in real estate
An article in the March 2012 Journal of applied financial economics indicated that female real estate agents have a better advantage in selling compared to male agents. While most women prefer working part-time, this does not hinder their success and the feminine touch which works to the woman’s advantage when selling the property. The more empathetic female approach to selling is proving to be more successful compared to the assertive, dominating male style to selling.
Women are known to make the majority of real estate purchasing decisions, and since female clients are reported to prefer dealing with female agents, real estate companies are gradually appreciating the significance of the female workforce.
Why are women becoming more successful in real estate?
Women are known to be better listeners and tend to communicate better and more natural compared to men who have an innate desire to compete and win in conversations. They also tend to pay more attention to detail, which is key to success in real estate. Because of this, women are better at building and nurturing professional relationships which is advantageous as buying or selling a property is a great financial and emotional commitment.
Studies report that women tend to have the characteristics of a good real estate agent; they are more attentive, better at listening, and tend to hunt for new leads. Due to this, there has been a rise in the number of women in the industry, and eventually, this will be a female dominated industry.